Dems slam ‘shameful’ House Republicans who voted to restore ‘mammy’ statue in Arlington

Confederate monument was taken down in Arlington National Cemetary in December

Ariana Baio
Friday 14 June 2024 20:42 BST
Comments
Hakeem Jeffries condemned his Republican colleagues who attempted to restore a Confederate statue
Hakeem Jeffries condemned his Republican colleagues who attempted to restore a Confederate statue (AP)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the top Democrat in the House, reprimanded 192 of his Republican colleagues who voted in favor of restoring a Confederate statue, depicting a Black “mammy,” in Arlington National Cemetary — calling the decision “shameful.”

“What is this rationale?” Jeffries said in a news conference on Friday. “In a time where America is facing a dangerous world with challenges all across the globe, to decide you want to restore a confederate monument to Arlington National Cemetary.”

On Thursday evening, the group of House Republicans, led by Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde, voted to restore the Reconciliation Monument as part of an amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. But the measure ultimately failed with a 192-230 vote.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, speaks at his weekly news conference, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, June 14, 2024
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, speaks at his weekly news conference, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, June 14, 2024 (AP)

The statue, which was taken down in December, was commemorative of the Confederacy and features a Black “mammy” holding the child of a white officer. Black “mammies” were stereotypical portrayals of enslaved women in the American South who were depicted as happy and loyal to white families.

“What exactly is the confederate tradition that extreme MAGA republicans, in 2024, are upholding and you want to use the National Defense Authorization Act to turn back the clock on progress that has been made,” Jeffries said on Friday.

He added, “Is it slavery, rape, kidnap, Jim Crow, lynching, racial oppression or all of the above?”

Jeffries specially called out his Republican colleagues from New York — Anthony D’Esposito, Marc Molinaro and Brandon Williams — for voting in favor of the amendment.

“In the United States of America, it’s shameful,” Jeffries said.

The Confederate statue in Arlington was one of many around the country that were re-evaluated after a national push to remove or rename monuments that commemorate the Confederacy.

The National Museum of African American History & Culture says that the presence of Confederate statues highlights “the honor and virtue of the Confederacy” and frames the South’s struggle as one “against a federal government infringing on its rights” while ignoring the key role that the issue of slavery played.

“What’s lost in this story is what the south was also fighting for: the protection of a true, white America,” the museum says.

Workers dismantle the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery December 20, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia
Workers dismantle the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery December 20, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia (AFP via Getty Images)

In response to Jeffries, Clyde released a statement saying it “pains” him “to see the fabric of our nation unraveling and the history of our country crumbling by the day.”

“Many founding principles and symbols that make the United States the greatest country in the world have been demonized to sow discord for nefarious political gain,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constituion.

Clyde called the removal of the Reconciliation Monument a “powerful example of this deliberate division.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Don Beyer, of Virginia, denounced his Republican colleagues’ attempt to hold onto a “humilating portrayal” of enslaved people.

“Today is not the 1920s, it’s not the 1950s, so it’s so disheartening to see a lost cause amendment come before the House in the year 2024,” Beyer said.

He added, “An enslaved woman is depicted as a mammy. She is holding the infant child of a white officer, and an enslaved man is following his owner to war. It is very difficult to see how the humiliating portrayal of a slave woman and a slave man represents reconciliation.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in